Measurements of the Causes and Consequences of Drought

Publikation: Bog/antologi/afhandling/rapportPh.d.-afhandlingForskning

This PhD thesis is a conjunction of four manuscripts and one published
paper on the measurement of disasters. The central idea is that in order
to study the causes and consequences of disasters, it is necessary to separate
the concept into its components: hazard, exposure, vulnerability, resilience,
response, impact, etc. With this in mind, the thesis will take the
reader through 4 chapters on the measurement of causes and consequences
of drought and one chapter on the role of technology in disaster relief coordination.
The first chapter is about measuring drought hazard. It outlines some
of the caveats of existing measures of agricultural drought often used in the
economics research, and suggests the use of predicted greenness anomalies.
The idea is to use satellite observations of rainfall and temperature anomalies
to predict greenness anomalies in a regression framework. This leads to
an estimator that is consistent and precise over time and space, includes
information on both determinants and direct observations of drought, and is
unaffected by human activities or the distance to nearest weather station. It
is shown to outperform other widely used agricultural drought measures in its
ability to predict self-reported droughts and economic activity as measured
by lights at night.
The second and third chapter exploit the observed impacts of agricultural
drought (measured as predicted greenness anomalies) on socio-economic out-comes to develop practical new ways of measuring vulnerability and resilience
in the Sahel. Vulnerability to childhood stunting is operationalized as the
probability of being stunted in a hypothetical future period based on the distribution
and effect of a drought. Resilience is determined by the observed
differences in consumption before and after a shock. Due to the scarcity of
panel data in the region, the main contribution of the third paper is to show
that the counter-factuals can be approximated with cross-sectional data using
decomposition methods.
The fourth chapter looks into one of the short term consequence of agricultural
drought in Nigeria, namely the change in production methods among
small-scale farmers. By merging a geo-referenced panel dataset with rich information
about agricultural practices with predicted greenness anomalies
at the plot level, it is possible to precisely identify changes in behaviour
before and after a severe drought. Due to large variation in drought intensity
across the country (and even within states), a difference-in-difference
strategy is pursued. The findings indicate that farmers implement a range
of on-farm risk-management strategies as a result of being exposed to a
drought. Specifically they tend to grow more drought-resistant crops, spend
more time on their fields, and use more pesticide and herbicide.
The fifth chapter studies one of the factors that can mediate the consequences
of disasters. A case study is built around the Virtual OSOCC, an
online platform for disaster relief coordination. By a combination of quantitative
and qualitative methods, the conclusion is that simple changes to
the user interface of a web-page can have substantial positive effects on the
amount of information being shared among relief organizations during the
critical first 48 hours of a disaster event.
ForlagDepartment of Food and Resource Economics, Faculty of Science, University of Copenhagen
StatusUdgivet - 2017

ID: 178601906